Singapore | Svitolina beats Pliskova to lead White Group
Elina Svitolina, defeated Czech Karolina Pliskova in the ongoing BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global on Tuesday evening.
The two fought for over 15 minutes in an epic third game of their round robin match.
“Actually, I was thinking how long we are playing this game?” Svitolina laughed at the memory. “No more!”
I made few changes in my mentality and my movement, and I think it worked really good,So far, yeah, so far so good Elina Svitolina
The former World No 3 saved 6 break points as the game stretched to 10 deuces, a marathon of a game that helped Svitolina take the opening set, and ultimately the match, 6-3 2-6 6-3, in an hour and 54 minutes.
Where it boosted the Ukrainian, it grounded the perennial Ace Queen, Pliskova, who felt it took most of the ensuing set to recover from the battle lost.
“I think it was a huge game,” Pliskova admitted afterwards. “I was pretty negative about the way how I played my break points and that I lost the game.
“This game, I could have won it, it could be different, but it was not. Maybe I should not think about it too much, because I think it had a big influence on the first set.”
It took Svitolina three sets to beat her opponent, dominating in the first and the decider, but dropping the second.
It was a grinding affair from the get-go, highlighted by that marathon third game, with both players slugging it out from the baseline.
The aggressive Ukrainian gained control and broke in the 6th game en route to taking the first set.
Pliskova rediscovered her booming serve in the second set, and played almost flawlessly, hitting 15 winners and making just 3 unforced errors, but she couldn’t maintain her momentum as Svitolina recovered her irresistible earlier form fand forced the Czech into errors.
She stayed solid against the Pliskova attack, recording 29 winners and just 18 unforced errors across the three sets, compared to the Czech’s 33 and 28.
She struck 8 aces to Pliskova’s 6, and edged ahead in break point success, converting 5 of her 13 chances while Pliskova had only 4 of 14.
She broke 3 times in the final set to cruise to victory the Ukrainian in stellar form in Singapore and determined to make amends for an early exit in her WTA Finals debut last year.
“It was a tricky match, I tried to stay focus,” Svitolina said later. “It has been a tough season for me, but the way I’m playing now is really good.”
Pliskova reflected: “It was a few years go when we played and I was beating her, so I think she improved a lot.
“She has a lot of good quality matches on good level, so she has confidence.
“But I don’t think her game changed. I think she’s still playing similar. Maybe she was missing much more before. Maybe she improve a little bit the serve. Otherwise she’s just defending.
“I think every time it’s going to be about me with her. That’s what I know. I’m not always able to play good and beat her, because she’s just running well, defending well. She won good match against Petra so she was feeling confident today.”
Svitolina echoed the Czech’s sentiment, crediting her improved athleticism with helping her battle back against the game’s biggest hitters.
“I made few changes in my mentality and my movement, and I think it worked really good,” she said. “So far, yeah, so far so good.”
Despite winning both of her round robin matches, Svitolina dropping a set on Tuesday ensured that she could not advance to the semi-finals until at least Thursday, the last day of White Group play.
As it stands, Svitolina tops the group with 2 wins and 0 losses (4-1 sets), and Pliskova and Caroline Wozniacki are both tied at 1-1, with Pliskova claiming the No 2 spot due to the sets differential (she won 3 sets and lost 2, while Wozniacki won 2 sets and lost 3).
Meanwhile, Kvitova rounds out the group, taking the No 4 spot with a 0-2 record.
On Thursday Svitolina plays Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the semi-finals of the WTA finale.
Even though she lost, Pliskova remains in the hunt to qualify for a second successive WTA Finals semi-final and plays fellow-Czech Petra Kvitova, who now cannot move into the knock-out stages.